I don't want smoke in my kitchen

Mike and I finally found and moved into a nice two-bedroom apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Two nice features are the HUGE kitchen and an outdoor deck. We have already grilled bratwursts and tuna steaks for dinner in our first 9 days in the new “crib.” We are using a countertop electric grill because legally we cannot have an open flame BBQ on a roof deck. Also we don’t want to burn down the building in case the burning ashes are blown onto the deck or something. The electric grill does get very hot. Of the many stupid things we bought from HSN and QVC, this is the only one that lived up to its value. I guess Wolfgang Puck did get it right. In our previous apartment we could have used it more often, but the smoke from indoor grilling is just so unbearable. Our unfortunate attempt at grilling salmon steaks left us in a weeklong fishy atmosphere. That’s when we said “No” to indoor grilling – at least not until we can install an industrial exhaust hood fan.

I really cannot understand how most American homes have open kitchens with exhaust hoods that just re-circulate the air (as opposed to exhausting it outside the house). It is true that many home style Chinese dishes are quick stir-fries, and such cooking leads to heavy smoking. I can remember from my childhood that the Taiwanese government was teaching the public about the hazard of inhaling such smoke. Housewives were the main high-risk population affected by this danger. Oils tend to have chemical reactions at high temperatures. If it is heated to start smoking, the temperature must be pretty hot. Such chemical reactions result in aromatic compounds generally viewed as hazardous or even carcinogenic. So the common advice is to either a) reduce cooking temperature; or b) use an effective exhaust fan. I know that many Chinese families in the US spend extra money to put in a true exhaust system in the kitchen, because such building plan is typically not included. But other styles of cooking like Italian or French also have high heat sautéing and pan frying. Putting aside the medical ramification of heated oil, the mere smell of grease and smoke alone should compel a homemaker to rethink the kitchen design. The smoke is really a fine cloud of tiny oil droplets, which deposit onto kitchen surfaces and seep into furniture fabrics. Of all the fabulous kitchen designs I have seen on HGTV and the Food Network, I have yet to catch any kitchen that paid attention to a good exhaust hood. Maybe in high end kitchens it is a given, but I just have not seen it.

There are many features in my dream kitchen. I want a 6-range stove, double oven, a plate warmer, drawers with lid organizer, and many more probably expensive installations. (Yes I am dreaming BIG!) But the number one thing will be a big exhaust hood that I hope will also be quiet and easy to clean.


Ada said…
Go to any big Chinese malls in Toronto and you will find MANY stores that carry your dream exhaust hoods in different brands, with various functions and features. The self-clean ones are cool. But I'm still waiting to see one that comes with Bose active noise-cancelling...
Albertitto said…
Haha, we should have a start up company and make a noise canceling, grease zapping, and deodorizing exhaust hood!

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